Anjalee Khemlani
2018-01-26
ROI-NJ

Gov. Phil Murphy has been busy in his first days in office, signing executive orders at a pace of nearly one a day since his inauguration. That may seem like a lot, but remember, his predecessor, Gov. Chris Christie, signed eight executive orders on his second day in office.

Here’s a look at four recent orders of importance to the business community — with reaction.

Auditing the EDA’s incentives

When: Jan. 19.

What it orders: The governor wants to take a closer look at the value of the state’s incentive programs run through the Economic Development Authority. Among other things, it directs the state comptroller to compare actual benefits realized, gather information on types of jobs that have been created (and their salaries) and review of the decision-making process.

The reaction from the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce: “A lot of people are collectively in agreement, just as long as we can have a further policy discussion as to merits of these things — of what works and doesn’t work. I stand by (that) we are proud to have supported the Economic Opportunity Act. But, at the same time, we recognize the state has so many resources. What a lot of people don’t realize is we are in competition with other states and they are offering similar things. Now there is an economic war going on in the region, and we have to make sure we are in that mix. But there needs to be a look at how we incentivize middle markets. I suggested that, if Newark doesn’t get Amazon, we redistribute that incentive package among the middle markets.”

Auditing NJ Transit

When: Jan. 22.

What it orders: Murphy wants a comprehensive strategic, financial and operational assessment of New Jersey Transit that will provide insights and recommendations for defining and implementing a new target operating model to create a world-class transportation corporation. The review shall include, but not be limited to, a look at funding, review of leadership, an overview of hiring, an analysis of relationship with Amtrak and a look at how the system can serve riders better.

The reaction from Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge): “The Assembly and Senate have been working hard together to devise legislative fixes for NJ Transit, but without a partner in the governor’s office, only so much could be done. That’s why I’m so pleased to see our new governor quickly order this independent audit of NJ Transit. The Legislature’s efforts will continue, but this audit will provide added insight as we work to ensure a dependable transportation system for our commuters. As I’ve made clear, government must be able to do the basics. That means fixing NJ Transit and getting people to work on time.”

Ensuring everyone has access to affordable health care

When: Jan. 21.

What it orders: Murphy wants a greater variety of information on the Affordable Care Act distributed to the public and more training for the staff of state agencies, enabling them to engage with consumers and navigators. No specifics were provided, but the steps state agencies plan to take will be required in a report due by May, with an updated report in August.

The reaction from the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute: “The recent executive order on health care and the ACA is really important. Even though open enrollment for 2018 is closed, Medicaid enrollment is always open to those who qualify. We need to reach people and get that message out. Also, special circumstances come up where people can enroll outside the open enrollment period, and they need support and information. The state has a crucial role to play. Strong, coordinated leadership at the top is what is needed to make that happen. Finally, if the state is going to take action to lower rates and protect consumers for 2019, there are steps we need to take NOW — this quarter. Acting by executive order to tell the agencies to get moving is one way that a governor can signal his priorities and directives right away. The steps are: looking at a reinsurance program, state-based individual mandate along with tax relief, and other items.”

Mandating a review of the medical marijuana program

When: Jan. 23.

What it orders: It calls for the Department of Health and the Board of Medical Examiners to conduct a review of the state’s medical marijuana program within the next 60 days, including: evaluating current roles on dispensaries and growing facilities, the licensing process for dispensaries and the conditions placed on physicians who participate it the program; analyzing medical conditions for which marijuana may be allowed as treatment; and assessing methods by which patients can obtain medical marijuana, and in what forms.

The reaction from the Medical Society of New Jersey: The society said that, although it had not had a chance to fully review the new order, it was surprised to see — amid all the possible health care issues in the state that need addressing — medical marijuana be given priority. “Our concern is that it should be a medical review. So, it should look at the best evidence available for potentially expanding indications and for the potential expansions listed here. It should avoid, as much as possible, heresy and anecdotal reports. We’re OK with the review, and whether or not a sophisticated review can be accomplished in 60 days remains to be seen.”

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